• Animals (wild and domesticated) are a major source of human disease.
  • Diseases shared with animals have large potential (and current) health impacts.
  • Trends in livestock production and consumption affect the risk of disease transferring from animals to humans.
  • The vast majority of sickness is caused by endemic zoonotic diseases which predominantly affect poor people (especially poor livestock keepers) in low-income countries. However, animals’ role in new pandemic diseases receives more attention, in part, because they pose a risk to more affluent countries.
  • Antibiotic resistance emerging in bacteria is the inevitable result of their use in order to kill bacteria.
  • Growth in antibiotic resistance threatens the medical community’s ability to treat common infections and safely conduct other medical procedures.
  • Antibiotic drug discovery is too slow and costly. Antibiotic resources must be conserved to avoid untreatable infections. Appropriate incentives are also needed to increase the rate of antibiotic drug discovery and lower the costs of new drugs.
  • Most clinical cases of antibiotic resistant infections in humans are thought to result from human use and misuse of antibiotics in hospitals and in the community.
  • The majority of antibiotics worldwide are used in livestock production – mostly in intensive livestock production systems.
  • While possible, it is not a simple biological step for antibiotic resistant bacteria to adapt and become human pathogens or to transfer of resistance genes to human pathogens that are able to spread between human hosts. This is why overuse in humans poses a higher risk to health.
  • Pathways for resistance transmission from livestock to humans are well understood, and good evidence exists for it taking place via food and occupational contact with livestock.
  • Current data – which are very limited and uncertain - suggest that the overall share of antibiotic resistant human infections originating from a livestock source is small.
  • Low probability events with high potential impacts can still present significant risks: such as the transfer of resistance to a highly infectious and harmful human bacterial pathogen.
  • Many antibiotics used in livestock production are also those critical to human medicine, or drugs of last resort – increasing the likelihood of untreatable infections resulting from the transmission of resistance.
  • The use of antibiotics in livestock production is expected to increase substantially, due to increases in livestock numbers and a shift towards more intensive production methods – with most increases taking place in low- or middle-income regions.
  • Antibiotic use in livestock can be greatly reduced by investment in farm hygiene, infection control, animal welfare, and improved monitoring systems for antibiotic resistance. Regulation and government support has been essential to achieving this in EU countries.
  • Many governments, businesses, and institutions are now advocating to eliminate unnecessary use of antibiotics in livestock, to preserve antibiotic efficacy for both human and animal medicine.